We are on strike!
Our privately chartered coach and our local Cusco guide have travelled from Cusco to Puno overnight. We meet at our Puno hotel and load up luggage and lunch picnics. A last look at the wonderful views of Lake Titicaca before we depart. From Puno we head to Juliaca and there has clearly been quiet heavy rains here overnight. The roads are trying to impersonate Lake Titicaca in parts and the local TukTuks and motorbikes are struggling to get through. Our coach is fine, although progress is slow. From Juliaca we cross the Altiplano, a stunning plateau with beautiful mountain views. Our first stop is a small town called Pukara. Hanny, our guide, knows a family business with a property combining café, souvenirs and toilets. Perfect! In fact the toilet facilities are unusual .... 18 cubicles in a row, most marked "ladies", a few marked "gents" and one with no door!
From Pukara our next stop is the highest point on the road at La Raya. There is a tremendous view of snow-capped mountains here and the air is fresh and clean. We are at just over 14,000 feet so we don't stay long.
The Inca Ruins at Raqchi are next. We enjoy our lunch snacks before touring the historic site here. It is sunny and warm, so hats and sun block are in order. We spend a little longer than originally scheduled because our driver has heard there is a road block ahead. The local community are protesting against a Peruvian Government plan to dam the river to aid a new mining operation. Sure enough on leaving Raqchi we cover a few miles and then come to a stop at the end of a long line of vehicles. Richard and Hanny walk ahead to find out more. About 200 locals are in the middle of the road having a meeting. Plenty of police are here too, but they are just watching. We are told the road block will open around 4pm (in about one hour). As promised the road opens up and we drive on. We are now on "plan B". As the light begins to fade we stop at an Inca wall and gateway which was a border between the highlands and Cusco city. The views here are tremendous in both directions and we can see the sun in one direction and a full moon in the other.
Our reward for all our efforts today is a comfortable 3-night stay at the 5-star Palacio del Inka Hotel in Cusco. The staff are welcoming and efficient, and in no time at all we are checked in and enjoying a tasty and well-served dinner.